Date
20 September 2019
US President Donald Trump had joked about John Bolton’s (left) image as a warmonger, reportedly saying that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump had joked about John Bolton’s (left) image as a warmonger, reportedly saying that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”. Photo: Reuters

Trump fires national security adviser John Bolton

US President Donald Trump abruptly fired his national security adviser John Bolton amid disagreements with his hard-line aide over how to handle foreign policy challenges such as North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and Russia, Reuters reports.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, adding that he would name a replacement next week.

Bolton, a leading foreign policy hawk and Trump’s third national security adviser, had pressed the president not to let up pressure on North Korea despite diplomatic efforts.

Bolton, a chief architect of Trump’s strident stance against Iran, had also argued against Trump’s suggestions of a possible meeting with the Iranian leadership and advocated a tougher approach on Russia and, more recently, Afghanistan.

The announcement followed an acrimonious conversation on Monday that included their differences over Afghanistan, said a source familiar with the matter.

The 70-year-old Bolton, who took up the post in April 2018, replacing H.R. McMaster, had also often been at odds with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Trump loyalist.

Pompeo acknowledged he and Bolton often had differences but he told reporters: “I don’t think that any leader around the world should make any assumption that because some one of us departs that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way.”

Offering a different version of events than Trump, Bolton tweeted: “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.’”

Trump had sometimes joked about Bolton’s image as a warmonger, reportedly saying in one Oval Office meeting that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”.

A source familiar with Trump’s view said Bolton, an inveterate bureaucratic infighter with an abrasive personality, had ruffled a lot of feathers with others in the White House, particularly White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Stephen Biegun, special US envoy on North Korea, is among the names that have been floated as possible successors.

“Biegun is much more like Pompeo, [he] understands that the president is the president, that he makes the decisions,” said a source close to the White House.

Also considered in the running is Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who had been expected to be named US ambassador to Russia, and Richard Grenell, US ambassador to Germany, people familiar with the matter said.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said “many, many issues” led to Trump’s decision to ask for Bolton’s resignation. She would not elaborate.

Officials and a source close to Trump said the president had grown weary of Bolton’s hawkish tendencies and bureaucratic battles. He was seen by policy analysts as an odd choice for an administration leery of foreign entanglements.

Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations and Fox News television commentator, had opposed a State Department plan to sign an Afghan peace deal with the Taliban insurgents, believing the group’s leaders could not be trusted. 

Among the points of contention was Trump’s intention called off by the president at the last minute – to bring Taliban leaders to the Camp David presidential retreat last weekend to finalize an accord just days before the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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